From a de-comissioned missile site to the worlds largest music festival, Milwaukee made Summerfest, and Summerfest has helped shape Milwaukee.
For many, "going to the Lakefront" means the same thing as going to Summerfest. But the Henry Maier Festival Park has a lengthy history that precedes the Big Gig ... and looks much different than it did when the festival moved to the lakefront in 1970.
In honor of the move of this nearly century-old MPS tradition to the Summerfest grounds, we've heard that the event will close on Friday, May 11 with a special performance.
Most Milwaukeeans know about The Harp Irish Pub at 113 E. Juneau Ave., but, sadly, few now remember its founder, Josephine Dolan, who was a beloved Brew City publican. Luckily, her granddaugher Patricia Doherty wrote in to remind us all.
While Summerfest was in growth mode in the 1970s, the next decade brought the Big Gig to an entirely new level, introducing us to Bo Black and building the Marcus Amphitheater.
What comes around goes around and that's perhaps even more true in Smallwaukee. I was reminded of this when veteran editorial cartoonist Bill Sanders re-appeared on the scene, contributing his biting work to OnMilwaukee. Sanders' art is on view this week during Gallery Night.
"The Downtown Milwaukee River ... Once a mighty stream of commerce, now seeks a new role in the life of the city." So said a 1968 report by the Milwaukee River Technical Study Committee, a 10-member group of local officials that convened for five years to assess the state of the river, look back at its history and consider its future. The report makes for interesting reading nearly 50 years later.
It looks like ancient history. At mom's house a few months ago I found this: an August 1980 edition of National Geographic. The distinctive border still a golden yellow but the photographs inside, especially in a 22-page spread on Milwaukee - "More Than Beer" - have a long-lost color to them; an almost unreal range of dull hues.
Walking amid the throngs a few weeks back at Summerfest, I bumped into a Milwaukee radio legend. That encounter made me smile, brought back a flood of memories, and is the cause for the following avalanche of name-dropping you are about to endure.
Howard Schnoll has been a Summerfest leader for 40 years. In this Milwaukee Talks, we talk to the chairman of the Milwaukee World Festival board about the past and the future for the Big Gig.